January Water Report

Perhaps it’s a little early to start talking about what we’ll see for water this spring but since we’ve already been fielding plenty of calls on the subject here’s what we know.

Snowpack across western Montana is currently sitting in the 80-90% of normal range. It could be much worse but the fact is we could use some precipitation. Following record precipitation last year, this winter has been a return to what has unfortunately become somewhat of the new normal.

The January long term forecast is for above average temperatures and below average precipitation which could translate into a busy month of fishing on the Missouri while those waiting for the ice to form on Holter Lake may be waiting all winter long.

We’re thankful for any business we get during the long winter months so we’ll take the traffic but here’s hoping for some major precipitation over the next couple of months.

Regardless of snowpack, we’re anticipating a great year ahead on the Missouri. River flow predictions are calling for a likely scenario of flows holding steady in the 4,500 CFS range through the winter months and peaking in the 6,000 CFS range in May and June.  This is great news to the wade anglers who missed out on fishing the Missouri last spring.

Max flow predictions show flows holding in the 4500 CFS range through February and then bumping up around 1000 CFS each month through June with a peak in the 10,000 CFS range while the minimum flow predictions show a steady drop in flow over the winter, leveling off in the 3500 CFS range beginning in April and holding there for the remainder of the season. This is not ideal. Let’s hope we see the most probable scenario (or max probable) play out.

We’re anxious to see what effect last season’s high water scrubbing is going to have on the hatches this year. It could be an epic dry fly year on the Missouri! Will we see the caddis explosion that has occurred following high water years in the past? Only time will tell. One thing looks fairly certain however, that being that we will actually have dry fly fishing before July. We missed much of the traditional dry fly prime time last season so we’re anxious for some BWO and PMD activity.

As per usual this is all speculation. We’re using the best information we have available to loosely predict what we might see this spring but Mother Nature always has the last word.

We’re not climatologists, we just sell fish hooks for a living so we’re content to leave the actual business of forecasting to the experts. We’ll keep you up to date on snowpack and flow conditions all winter long but at this point it definitely feels like it could be a return to dry fly nirvana on the MO in 2019.

In the meantime winter fishing is HOT right now. The nymphing is good to great depending on the day and streamers have been effective both on the swing and the strip. We’ve seen some midge activity with sporadic feeding. If we continue to see mild conditions throughout the winter expect good midge fishing as early as late January and throughout February and March.

We’ve been busy with lodging and have been getting a lot of calls about our winter lodging and guide trip special. The rumors are true! $500 for a full day guided float trip on the MO and TWO nights of premium lodging at Wolf Creek Angler. Our lodging options are quite limited during the winter so things tend to fill up quickly. If the mild weather persists and the demand is there we may look at opening more lodging up sooner rather than later. We’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime – give us a call and book your cure to cabin fever today and while you’re at it, make those spring/summer plans if you haven’t done so already. Prime dates are filling fast.

2019 Off to a Fishy Start

New Year on the fly. Photo by Matt Hargrave

One week into 2019 and we’re off to a fishy start having done our earliest ever guide trips on January 3rd. It looks like we’re in for a mild winter so hopefully we’ll be running a bunch more trips and while we may be losing out on some lodging for the ice fishing crowd (zero ice on Holter to date) I think we’ll more than make up for it with river traffic.

The Wolf Creek Bridge parking lot looked like July this weekend with rigs filling the pretty yellow lines. It’ll be interesting to see how that all works out this spring when things are going full bore. At this point, with around a dozen rigs in the lot (roughly half full), it felt a little crowded but I’m sure everyone will adjust just fine this spring when it’s all about the peace and harmony.

The forecast is calling for highs in the 40’s for the majority of the ten-day outlook with no high wind warnings and zero chance for precipitation in the mix (though it is howling today with 40 mph gusts). The January outlook is for above average temperatures with below average precipitation which means there’s no time like the present to book yourself a winter guide trip with Wolf Creek Angler.

$500 for a full day Missouri River guided float trip for one or two anglers AND two nights of premium lodging all winter long! Guide trips only with no lodging are $400 and lodging with no guide trip is $99/night plus tax. Try to find a better deal on the Missouri…. I guarantee you won’t.

Winter fishing techniques are a go. Deep nymphing and swinging or slow stripping streamers are what you should be doing from here on out.

Deep, slow water…. double nymph rig 7’ – 9’ overall with or without split shot (your call). I like a #12 Pink Amex or Rainbow Czech paired with a #16 or #18 caviar scud, Petersen’s Sow, Pink Lucent bead Ray, Tailwater Sow, soft hackle sow, Zebra Midge, Pill Popper, UV Crush, Cotton Candy etc. They’re all good. They’ll all catch fish if the time is right and you get them in the zone.

The best time of day has been in the 10:30 am – 2:30 pm zone. Nighttime lows are dropping into the 20’s so no point in starting any earlier than 10 am. Let things warm up a bit, you’ll be glad you did. Predictably, most of the traffic has been in the upper stretches but with things being as mild as they are there’s no reason you shouldn’t be fishing below Craig or right on down through the canyon.

Hot head Kreelex, Brown and Yellow Kreelex, Skiddish Smolt and Polar Leeches in various flavors have been the go-to options for swinging. I’m still stripping Sparkle Minnows, MK Ultra and Ultralites, Dirty Hippies and D & D’s and occasionally trailing a Polar Leech off any of them and moving plenty of fish.

There have been plenty of folks staking out their claims and swinging out there and there’s been no shortage of walk/wade nymphers as well. If you’re fishing from a boat, be courteous and grant them their space. It may be busy by winter standards but there’s miles of good water. No need to crowd anyone.

The water temperature is holding steady in the 35-degree range which is right about where it should be. The fish are not going to expend a lot of energy chasing down a meal whether it’s a nymph or a streamer though I’ve found that you’re much more likely to entice the chase with a streamer when they’re looking for a quick calorie fix.

Once again, whether nymphs or streamers you’ll want to get them deep enough that the fish don’t have to move much for them. If streamers are your thing you should be dredging right now and stripping ever so slowly.

Embrace winter fishing on the MO’. After all, spring is still a long way off and you can’t sit inside all winter long. Make plans to escape to Wolf Creek and enjoy winter solitude on the Missouri. The shop still closed on Mondays and Tuesdays for the time being but we’re always open for lodging and guide trips and speaking of that…have you booked your dates for spring and summer yet? If you haven’t you should. Prime dates are filling fast.

Long Awaited Missouri River Fishing Report

 

For whatever reason I haven’t fished the Missouri much these past few weeks, save a couple of short walk in outings.

December is definitely the slowest month traffic wise on the Missouri but it’s not because it doesn’t fish. The short cold days of December find many busy with the holidays and for a lot of guides, outfitters and shop owners December truly is the end of the season which means it’s time to catch up on end-of-the year paperwork and other such unfishy things.

Counting flies, completing and submitting outfitter logs and begging folks to come out and deplete shop inventory are a few things I’ve been doing. A lot of guides have winter jobs which are typically in full swing by now so we just don’t see much activity during the month of December.

Once the holidays have passed cabin fever starts to set in and a break in the weather will typically bring them out in droves but for now all is quiet.

While looking at the unseasonably warm forecast for this week I decided I really needed to get back on the water. So far this winter most of my days off have coincided with cold temps, wind, domestic projects, lethargy or all of the above. On the days I’ve thought about fishing the weather has changed my mind but with a few winter trips coming up and a fish shaped hole in my constitution I decided Monday was the day.

WCA/Iron Fly guide Brad Turner and I battled a bit of wind but for the most part had very mild weather, at least by December standards. We skipped the dam and opted for the Wolf Creek Bridge to Stickney run intent on devoting a good part of the day to streamer fishing.

Winter water and winter nymphs are producing though it certainly wasn’t lights out. A half-hearted effort perhaps but we were content to pick up a few fish just to affirm the water and bug selection prior to moving on to the big bugs.

Winter is the season of status quo as far as nymphing goes. Rainbow Czechs, Pink Amex, Pill Poppers, Rainbow Weight flies, Tailwater sows, black Zebra midges, Soft Hackle Sows, Firebead anything, UV Crush, Bubble Yums, Cotton Candies, Pinkalicious, Yum Yums, Pink Lucent Bead Rays….you know the drill. Whatever you do adjust depth and weight before getting carried away with changing bugs. You can often run the same bugs for weeks at a time.

Seeing as we were mostly interested in streamer fishing we soon switched rigs and had good action from the start with Brad picking up a nice bow and a good brown within the first mile of water. Things slowed a bit after those first two fish but we did have several stretches where we lit them up. Brad got em’ on the D & D’s and I powered through a couple of slow at-bats with the JJ Sparkle Minnow before they honed in for last light.

A solid day all around with six or eight to the boat, moving another dozen or thereabouts. More bows than browns this time around but you never know what you’re going to get.

Winter is typically swing season on the MO’ thanks to our friends downriver who have pretty much singlehandedly created the two hand Trout Spey craze which has done nothing but grow since I’ve been here. Kudos to Headhunters Fly Shop for creating an entirely new market on the Missouri. It’s a super effective method and an entirely different way to fish.

I have yet to board that train preferring instead to stick with what I know and LOVE which is streamer fishing of the single hand variety. I prefer covering long stretches of water, fishing from the boat with big heavy lines, big bugs and stripping more than swinging though swinging certainly has its moments. Mind you I have nothing against the Trout Spey game, it’s just not my thing (as of yet).

When I first came to the Missouri I was told by many that it wasn’t a great streamer river. I was told that Intermediate lines and small streamers were what was most effective and while this may be the case from a numbers standpoint I think folks are limiting themselves with that mentality.

Is the Missouri a great streamer river? It depends how you define “great” but to me moving 20 fish in a day and hooking a third or more of those is pretty great. The biggest fish I ever caught on the MO’ came on a hopper but outside of that the majority of big fish I catch are caught on streamers.

Will they eat big streamers? You bet. Again, you might increase your numbers fishing smaller bugs but I’m of the mindset that if you’re hunting big fish you should be running big bugs. I hooked the fish above on a #4 Sparkle Minnow. This was an average sized brown (17” give or take) already in the process of consuming about a 6” rainbow which apparently wasn’t quite enough of a meal.

It’s quite possible that the majority of the diet of these fish on the MO consists of smaller leeches and bait fish but that doesn’t change the fact that they are opportunistic feeders and that they are predators. Put a big bug in front of the right fish and he’s going to eat it. The bigger the bug the bigger the fish? Not necessarily but odds are that the bigger fish are going to target the bigger meals. Sure they’ll eat the small stuff too but in my mind by running bigger bugs I’m minimizing the odds of hooking smaller fish and maximizing the odds of hooking a beast.

I like to dredge and I like to hit every nook and cranny of any kind of bank structure. I like to work the buckets and the tailouts and soft edges near the bank. I like to switch up the retrieve until I find what works and to a lesser extent I like to change bugs and colors but truth be told I have my go-to bugs which seem to work more often than not and you’ll usually find I’ve got one of these half dozen or so offerings rigged and ready at any given time. That being said like most streamer junkies I’m a sucker for bugs that swim so if it darts and dives and flounders like the wounded bait fish it’s supposed to mimic I’m all over it.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of days they simply aren’t interested in chasing streamers and on these days you always have the option of bobber fishing but more often than not I’ll throw streamers all day long regardless if that’s what we set out to do.

Who knows, maybe someday I’ll get in line with the Trout Spey set but for now there’s nowhere I’d rather be than standing in the bow of a drift boat, 7 or 8 weight in hand trying to coax monster browns up from the depths or out from the cover. I live for this. A close second however would be sitting in the rower’s seat serving up prime water to someone just as obsessed as I am with the streamer game.

I will say that this is my preferred time to fish streamers. Now until the weeds return next summer is prime streamer time and while the fish may be a little on the lethargic side as the water temps drop it makes it all that much more challenging and rewarding to coax them in to attacking.

Single hand, two handed, streamers, bobbers….do what you like and don’t miss out on what can sometimes be truly epic winter fishing on the Missouri.

Early December on the MO

Winter Solitude on the MO’

All has gone quiet on the Missouri save the wingbeats of the waterfowl and the occasional volley of shotgun blasts.

Winter is taking hold.

The water temps have dropped into the high 30’s and with single digit overnight temps expected ice will start to be an issue on the lower reaches of the river.

It’s time to turn your attention to the winter water. Deep and slow. That’s where you will find them. Deep rigs with a bb or two and something pink….there’s your Missouri River winter nymphing rig. Use it from here on out all winter long.

Fishing pressure has been close to non-existent and I wouldn’t expect that to change much for the time being though with temps climbing back near 40 this weekend and into next week you might see a few folks out there looking for a winter fix.

December is definitely our slowest month of the year. People generally put fishing on the back burner during the holidays and we don’t see a lot of holiday shopping traffic as most people stick closer to home to do their shopping. That being said, for those willing to make the trip we’ve got all kinds of great gift ideas and with end-of-the year pricing in effect we’ve got the deals you can’t afford to pass up on the good stuff.

We’re doing a Redington wader and boot blow out sale clearing the way for our spring shipment of Simms waders and boots which will arrive next month. Forty percent off all in-stock Redington waders and boots until they’re gone. We’ve got Palix, Sonic Pro, Sonic Pro HD, Sonic Pro HDZ, Women’s Sonic Pro, Women’s Willow, Women’s Siren and youth Crosswater waders. For boots we’ve got Skagit and Prowler as well as women’s Willow boots.

They’re going fast. Call or message the shop before you come out for current inventory.

Can’t make it out to Wolf Creek? No problem. We’re happy to ship anything anywhere.

In addition to the big Redington sale we’ve got great sale prices on all of our outerwear and sportswear and if you’re looking for a rod and reel look no further. 25% off all rod/reel combos now through the end of the year.

And while we’re talking about deals….don’t forget our winter guide trip and lodging special. $500 for a full day guide trip and two nights of premium lodging. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY is going to beat this deal!

If you don’t need the lodging winter trips are $400 for a full day for one or two anglers. If you don’t need the guide but do need lodging our winter rates are $99/night plus tax for premium lodging complete with full kitchen and private bath.

A few more weeks and we’ll be turning the corner. Longer days lie ahead. From what I’m hearing it sounds like we’re in for a somewhat mild winter. If so, we hope to be a part of your Missouri River winter fly fishing plans.

Late October Missouri River Fishing Report

Wolf Creek Bridge FAS is OPEN

We’ve been enjoying some gorgeous autumn weather these last several days though the fishing has slowed considerably.

We love the blue skies and sunshine, optimal conditions for showcasing the dwindling fall color show. The fish do not share our love for such days. The fish prefer the shadows.

That being said, there has been no shortage of opportunities to target rising fish, even on the sunniest of days if you know where to look.

A Sprout Baetis paired with cripple or emerger will get eaten as will a split wing BWO or a tried and true parachute Adams. An October Caddis makes a great strike indicator…the kind they like to eat! Drop a CDC Caddis Emerger or a zebra midge to up your odds and always make that first cast count. Matching the hatch can be important but presentation is critical. They’ll eat something other than the exact bug that’s on the water if it’s presented correctly. They won’t think about eating a poorly presented fly no matter how close to the natural it looks.

There are always exceptions to the rules but if you plan to consistently catch fish you have to make your first casts count. A ravenous pod of hungry trout on the Missouri is NOT the place for casting practice!

Nymphing reports have ranged from awesome to terrible, depending on location (and just maybe also depending on the skill level of the anglers). You end up hearing a lot of conflicting reports over the course of a day in the fly shop due in large part to the subjective nature of our sport.

It’s not uncommon to hear the extreme ends of the spectrum on any given day. “The water is really high” for one but “the water is as low as I’ve seen it” for another. “The slowest it’s ever been for us” often times coincides with “the best we’ve ever done here”.

The objective report is that nymphing is good. It was better prior to this streak of sunny days and it will likely be better once the clouds return but overall nymphing has been good and will always be your ticket to numbers.

Tailwater Sows have been money for me as of late, typically paired with a Rainbow Czech or beaded version of the Tailwater Sow but I’ve also had good luck with Pill Poppers, Firebead Rays, black Zebra Midges, Little Green Machines, Psycho Mays and plain old pheasant tails.
I’ve been running 5’ to split and not doing much in the way of depth adjustments. Many are finding success running shorter late in the day, I haven’t found a reason to do so. Keep it simple and don’t overthink it.

If you’re having a tough time finding fish take a look at the depth of your rig and the water you’re fishing before going crazy with bug changes.

Believe me, we’re all for people making bug changes. We’ve got thousands of bugs we think you should try but truth be told….it’s typically not the bug itself but rather where you’re fishing it. Even so, just like everywhere, there are a handful of go-to patterns on this river you should not be without…all of which are available for purchase every day at Wolf Creek Angler.

Streamer reports have been decent but once again, blue bird days are typically not your best bet for tossing the big bugs. Mornings have been decent before the sun hits the water and the long shadows of the afternoon into the early evening hours are good bets.

The water is still relatively warm (currently 52 degrees) so strip aggressively. They’re up for the chase and if you’re lucky the ATTACK! Expect plenty of short strikes and keep at it. Weeds are still a hindrance but they haven’t been horrible. There are angry browns lurking somewhere in the shadows. All you have to do is find them.

Try MK UltrasSparkle Minnows, Dirty Hippies, Autumn Splendors, Skiddish Smolts, Polar Leeches, Circus Peanuts, Mojo Minnows or anything else you believe in. We’ve been having our best luck with olive, natural and grey but don’t overlook white.

The entire river is fishing well right now. Best nymphing reports have come from the upper while we’ve found the better dry fly and streamer fishing to be below Craig. FYI – The Wolf Creek Bridge FAS is OPEN.

The fall season is in full swing and it will be over before you know it. Make your fall fly fishing getaway to the Missouri while there is still time.

Autumn has Finally Arrived

Fall has arrived

Here we are in the final days of September and while autumn just officially arrived last Saturday, in some ways summer seems like a very distant memory.

Most mornings have been dark and chilly and while we’ve continued to have some days with temps in the 70’s the chill returns early each evening.

Traffic has been steadily increasing since about the second week of September and while we’ll be winterizing rooms before we know it, we’re currently enjoying a full house more nights than not. I always enjoy the company during the fall knowing that in just six weeks or so the lonely days of the winter season will be upon us.

Soon the dark winter days of the canyon will commence and the shop will be starved of sunlight until spring. In the meantime we’re loving each and every sunny day.

The fishing has been good overall, though with the increase in traffic comes the increase in sub-par fishing reports. Guide reports have been good most days, DIY reports are always a mixed bag.

The river is in great shape right now, holding in that 4500 CFS range with water temps in the 60 degree range and dropping. We’re getting a fair amount of folks inquiring about the flows, feeling like they are higher than normal. This isn’t really the case as indicated by this chart which shows that we are currently just a few hundred CFS over the historical average.

We get a fair amount of wading anglers who prefer flows to be in the 3500 – 4000 cfs range which is great for accessing more spots but that being said, the river is VERY wadeable right now. You should always use extreme caution when wading any river but these flows are not considered dangerous.

Weeds are an ever-present challenge right now, but no worse than normal. Expect to encounter them and be vigilant about keeping your rigs clean. Weeds are part of the deal this time of year on the Missouri. Don’t let them get you down and don’t expect them to disappear anytime soon. They’ll be here throughout the fall fishing season but there’s no reason to let them ruin your day.

Dry fly fishing is a real possibility each day though we are in transition so expect this to improve from here on out. There have been multiple reports of BWO’s and you can expect to encounter pseudos, callibaetis and caddis as well. Terrestrials are definitely a possibility throughout the fall but we’ve all but closed the book on sub-par hopper season. Ants and beetles are still in the mix but keep your expectations low. We’re moving BWO’s front and center in the dry fly bins as we speak.

Nymphing will continue to produce. No big changes on the bug menu though we’ve definitely seen a shift towards rainbow Czechs as the point fly of choice. Purple weight flies are a close second and I wouldn’t hesitate to throw a pink Amex into the mix. Trail with a black zebra or your baetis nymph of choice. If those don’t work try a soft hackle sow or a tailwater sow. More often than not it’s more of a depth issue than a bug issue but sometimes you have to throw the kitchen sink at them.

It pretty much goes without saying that fall is streamer season so if that’s your thing then you should be here now! Yes, weeds complicate things but work through those issues and you’ll be rewarded. Who knows, that next cast might just miss every weed in its path and entice that 24” angry fall brown to strike. You won’t know if you don’t throw.

Streamer bins are full and we’re also fully stocked with cold weather gear from base layers to hats and gloves to jackets, waders, boots and more.

It’s been a busy month for guide trips and we expect October will be the same. We’ve got plenty of dates available for both the Missouri and the Blackfoot.

Don’t wait any longer, autumn is here…make your fall fishing plans today.

Mid September Fishing Report

We bid a final farewell to summer this week with the official start of fall arriving Saturday.

The Autumn chill has been in the air for a while now, especially in the mornings. You’ll want to layer up for sure.

The late summer fishing has been outstanding these past weeks and should remain strong from here on out.

On the dry fly side, Tricos are still in the mix but it’s feeling like that ship has all but sailed. Still a daily event but sporadic  at best.

The terrestrial game has been hit or miss this year with ants outperforming hoppers by a long shot. If you stick with the hoppers you’re bound to get an eat or two but trailing an ant has been the right call more often than not.

Hopper wise we’ve had decent action on Moorish and More or Less hoppers in peach, yellow, pink and tan with none of the above consistently out-producing any of the others. You can’t go wrong with purple chubbies. They seem to out-fish the hoppers every time.

Black parachute ants, sparkle ants and Blooms Stealth Ant in purple have all been effective ant options.

There have been enough caddis around daily that a #16 outrigger or plain old elk hair caddis paired with your ant of choice might just make you forget all about the hopper fishing. Hoppers are definitely fun to fish and the takes are awesome but lately your hook up odds have been better with a caddis or even a plain old, tried and true parachute Adams.  If you insist on fishing the bigger dries an October caddis wouldn’t be a bad call. I haven’t personally seen any bugs just yet but it’s time!

Nymphing wise the Zirdle craze may finally be reaching an end. I’m not quite ready to proclaim the death of the Zirdle, I tried that once a few weeks back and was proven grossly mistaken. It has definitely slowed though and I’ve actually had a few days where we ditched it altogether. That being said, they’re still selling well and I’m fairly confident that WCA may have the most comprehensive Zirdle selection in the canyon.

We’ve seen a shift towards rainbow Czechs and a return to Tailwater Sows and have also had a run on black zebra midges. Weight Flies in gold and purple have been consistently producing and Psycho Mays and LGM’s and Peep Shows are still go to options. Outliers have been October Caddis nymphs and Soft Hackle Hares Ear and PT jigs. Look for BWO Magic Flies and Split Case BWO’s to come into play sooner rather than later.

Streamers Anyone?

The streamer brigade has been at it consistently during the low light hours and overcast days and if these past two weeks are any indication we could be in for a fantastic fall streamer season on the MO this year.

Weeds have been a problem, especially in the canyon and will continue to present a real challenge throughout the fall but as we’ve said before if you know that going in and you don’t let the frustration get the best of you it goes a long way towards making your time on the water more enjoyable.

It can be tedious work but it’s imperative that you keep your bugs clean (applies to dries and nymphs as well). Trout don’t like salad on their bugs. If you’re dragging weeds around you are pretty much guaranteed not to catch anything and what a shame it would be to have your perfect placement and/or perfect drift negated by weeds on your bugs.

I haven’t observed a lot of streamer fishing going on out there (aside from that occurring in my boat) but judging by the abundance of empty spaces in the streamer bin it’s game on. Reinforcements are on the way and the bins will be full by the time you get here. ZK’s MK Ultra, Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow (JJ or Sculpin), Dirty Hippy in brown, ZK’s Inflated Ego, Autumn Splendor, Skiddish Smolt, Lil Kim, Circus Peanuts and D & D’s are all topping the weekly sales report for what it’s worth.

Traffic is moderate and will continue to increase as we settle into our fall season. Lodging is busy through the end of October but not so busy that we can’t fit you in. Ditto for guide trips. I’d make that call sooner than later though so you don’t miss out on what could very well be the best fall fishing we’ve seen in years.

Don’t miss the fall wader sale going on now at Wolf Creek Angler. 25% off all men’s and women’s waders and boots from Redington and Korkers.

We’re also fully stocked with new cold weather gear from Simms and still have some great deals going on summer gear.

September Fishing Forecast

Fall Colors on the MO’

September has arrived.

Labor Day has come and gone. Summer Vacation is OVER. School is back in session. High School and college football are underway and NFL football returns this Sunday. Could this be the Lions’ year?

Technically we’ve still got almost three weeks of summer to go but for all intents and purposes autumn has arrived.

It even feels like fall today with a chilly 42 degrees this morning and a high only in the 60’s. We’ll see a return to the 80’s this week before things trend cooler again starting Saturday.

As you might imagine the Tuesday after Labor Day tends to be a quiet day in the shop and on the river but it won’t be long before things fire up again as we enter what we’ve come to refer to as our “second season”.

Rivaling our peak months of June and July, mid -September through mid- November offer some of the best fishing of the season. Having lost a good part of the prime time this season to high flows we’re hoping for an especially strong fall and by the looks of things we’re going to get it.

Guide dates and lodging are filling quickly for late September and the first half of October. The weather will dictate what happens after that but late October and early November have been money for as long as I’ve been here.

We’ll keep as much lodging open for as long as we can but as the cold begins to take hold we’ll be forced to start shutting things down, likely mid to late October. The motel units are the first to be closed and we generally keep the cabins open through Thanksgiving. Our bungalows and the shop are open year round and guides are available any and every day of the year.

Epic dry fly fishing and phenomenal streamer fishing along with great nymphing opportunities define late fall on the Missouri. Crisp autumn air, BWO’s and predatory browns on the prowl make fall my favorite time to fish the MO’ and in fact my favorite time to fish period.

Crowds will soon return, though not like what we see during the prime time so there is some solitude to be had out there as many turn their attention to hunting from here on out.

Expect tricos to continue for the next week or two and stay focused on your pseudo as well as your hopper/terrestrial game. Caddis have been resurgent as of late and will continue to offer opportunities as we await the autumn BWO’s.

Nymphers are finding success with gold or purple weight flies, Psycho Mays, LGM’s, Purple Lightning Bugs, PT’s, Peep Shows, Redemptions, Zebras, 2 Bits and the like. Claws R Cray, Snapping Crays and Zirdles continue to drive the numbers.

Streamer fishing is heating up and will only get better from here on out. Low light conditions and overcast days are key but don’t feel like you can’t fish streamers in the sun. Sunny clear days may not be optimal but you never know unless you throw. There are plenty of big fish caught on streamers on sunny days. Don’t wait for perfect conditions, work with what you’ve got.

Speaking of conditions, prepare yourself mentally to contend with the weeds no matter how you’re fishing. They can frustrate the best anglers out there but if you choose your water wisely and expect the inevitable it’ll go a long way in helping you maintain your sanity.

Olive has been working well as have natural and tan. JJ Sparkle Minnow shines this time of year but don’t give up on the Sculpin version which seems to get it done in just about any conditions. ZK’s MK Ultra in grey or brown and yellow, Dirty Hippies, ZK’s Inflated Ego, Montana Mouthwash, Galloups Peanut Envy, Skiddish Smolt, buggers and polar leeches all good choices right now.

You’ve heard it here plenty and we’ll continue to preach it…fish what you like and fish it well. Confidence in your bugs makes all the difference in the world no matter what discipline but it’s critical in the streamer game.

Most are stripping, some are swinging. Cover a lot of water and bomb the banks but don’t overlook the riffles, drop offs and buckets. The fish are everywhere. Stripping off of the bank will get you your best ROI but you could definitely hit pay dirt hitting the water overlooked by most.

Fish the next two weeks if you want solitude. Busy days are coming.

Holter Dam to Craig is still your best bet for mixing it up with nymphs and dries (emphasis on nymphs). I’d stay below Craig if it’s streamer or terrestrial action you seek.

Welcome to fall on the Missouri. Be sure and pay us a visit for obscene deals on summer gear. We’re in the process of shifting to colder weather gear and will see an influx of new arrivals coming soon.

From the top guides on the river to affordable lodging to shuttles and accessories, rods and reels, lines and leaders, boots and waders and the best bug selection in the canyon we are your Missouri River one stop shop for everything autumn fly fishing.

Don’t miss our Fall Wader Sale happening now. Fall is the time to drag the waders and boots back out. Why not treat yourself to an upgrade. 25% off all wading gear while it lasts. We proudly feature Redington waders and boots as well as Korkers boots which continue to dominate with interchangeable felt and rubber soles.

There are always great deals to be had at Wolf Creek Angler, the best shop you never know was here.

Late August Report

We saw a big change in the weather yesterday as temps peaked in the high 40’s before dropping into the high 30’s last night. A soaking rain and gusty north wind gave us a taste of what’s soon to come. Those who braved the elements and fished yesterday hit it just right.

Lots of fish up, solid nymphing and the best streamer fishing we’ve seen since early spring. Hopefully this too is an indicator or what’s to come.

Don’t put away the flip flops and sunscreen just yet. After all, we’ve still got more than three weeks of summer to go. We’ll see temps in the  70’s this week but the shorter days and the cool nights definitely have us thinking about fall fishing.

The trico hatches continue to please most mornings and should last at least another couple of weeks. Terrestrial fishing has been improving and will run through mid October. And speaking of October, it won’t be long before we start seeing some October Caddis.

The Zirdle has reclaimed top spot this past week  in the nymphing world. We’ve had good luck with both the tan and the olive. I’m not sure the color is critical at this point. Try a Claws R Cray or a Snapping Cray as well. Black Zebra Midges at the dam and Peep Shows, S & M’s, Psycho Mays, LGM’s, Purple Lightning Bugs and Frenchies all good options as well.

Medium depth, faster water running 5 – 6′ overall sans split shot has been the ticket for me but short leashing the shallows has also been productive.

The best nymphing has been from Holter Dam to Stickney. The canyon has provided plenty of solitude and plenty of fish as well. Give the hoppers a go through the canyon, with or without a dropper. We’ve been getting looks and eats on Chubbies (purple, gold and royal) and have finally started to get some action on hoppers as well. More or Less and Moorish Hoppers in peach or tan (#10 ) should do the trick.

I missed the action these last two days but as I mentioned above it sounds like the best streamer fishing of the summer….by far. Two words…. Sparkle Minnow…that’s all you need to know for now.

Weeds will be a frustration whether you’re dry fly fishing, nymphing  or streamer fishing. Anticipate that going in and deal with it. If you don’t come mentally prepared you could be in for a discouraging day on the MO’.

As I mentioned, we’ve still got more than three weeks  of summer to go but that fall feeling is definitely taking hold.

School is back in session, football is about to start, archery and upland bird hunting opens Saturday, Oktoberfest beers have begun to appear on store shelves, green leaves have begun to turn to oranges and reds and yellows and you may or may not have already fired up your furnaces.

Traffic is still relatively light on the river and with many switching their focus to hunting it may get even lighter for the next week or two but we’re not far from what we like to refer to as our Second Season. The shops and lodges and restaurants (and of course the river) will soon be abuzz with activity again as we close out the 2018 season.

Don’t miss out on Autumn fishing on the Missouri. It’s a magical time to be here.

 

 

 

August 21st Update

Just a quick river update this morning.

We got a good amount of rain yesterday along with cooler temps which has helped tremendously with the fires. I’m actually looking at some patches of blue sky this morning.

It’s feeling like fall out there with a current temp of 50 degrees. The high will be just shy of 70 today.

Patchy smoke, partly sunny skies and light winds combined with cool temps and no traffic could spell NEAR PERFECT CONDITIONS out there today.

We recommend putting in at Holter Dam if nymphing is your game plan. The Dam to Craig float has been very productive as of late with the run to Wolf Creek Bridge definitely producing the best results. Crowding is NOT an issue right now but if you don’t like being around other boats then skip the row arounds and just hot spot your way down. If you leave the dam crowd early you’ll have plenty of good water to yourself if you want to do row arounds.

Wolf Creek to Stickney has been my go to lately for a great mix of dry fly action and nymphing and the canyon has been great for solitude and is probably your best bet for terrestrial action.

Status quo on the bugs. Peep Shows, black zebras and Frenchies have led the charge in my boat but LGM’s, S & M’s, Weight Flies, Redemptions, Psycho Mays, Tung Darts, Tan UV Czechs and 2 Bits have all been producing as have zirdles and snapping crays.

Best selling Trico….BY FAR has been the Indicator Spinner followed by double wing, hi vis spinners, drowned tricos and buzzballs. No need to limit yourself to those though. We’ve got endless options if you want to show them something different. We would concur with what you’ve read elsewhere however that if you aren’t getting them the bug is generally not the problem. It’s all in the presentation so bring your A game. Practice in the offseason….not during the game!

There are a lot of folks missing out on the best dry fly fishing of the season and depending on the day the nymphing could blow your mind. Our loss is your gain…Get out there and enjoy it before the return of the crowds. They are coming.

You’ve got 10 days left to take advantage of our Dog Days Guide Trip and Lodging Special. Book a full day guide trip and one night of lodging and the second night of lodging is on us through the end of August.

Give us a call at the shop or swing by for up to the minute reports and conditions, the best bugs and the friendliest service you’ll find anywhere.